For fans of classic R&B, History of Rhythm & Blues, Vol. 1 is an extraordinary document. From the love ballad "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere" to the barrelhouse New Orleans groove of "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee," the range of music from these selections is fascinating. Many of these are interesting curiosities, including "Ol' Man River" (one of the first production credits for a young Al Green) to the cult classic "One Mint Julep." (The addition of Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene" seems odd, however, since it doesn't really fit in with the remaining tracks, which lean towards doo-wop and ballads.) As could be expected, these are truly lo-fi recordings, but the sound quality can easily be overlooked when confronted with a song as powerful as Joe Turner's gut-wrenching "Chains of Love" or Ruth Brown's rollicking "5-10-15 Hours." Many of these cuts have since shown up on other anthologies (most famously the Atlantic Rhythm & Blues series), but there are some real rarities (such as the Edna McGriff selection) that are best heard here, and fans and collectors of classic R&B should seek this out.